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News and updates on DHS efforts that support seniors.

Valerie Cooke named director of Nursing Facility Rates and Policy Division

Valerie Cooke, a leader in the Nursing Facility Rates and Policy Division for 25 years, has been named director of the division effective Dec. 5. She replaces Bob Held, who retired Dec. 2. “Val has played a key leadership role on quality initiatives, pay-for-performance systems and program evaluations, both within DHS and as a nationally recognized expert on aligning quality measurement and performance improvement to payment models,” said Loren Colman, assistant commissioner for Continuing Care for Older Adults, who made the appointment. Cooke, who most recently has been manager for quality and research,  said she looks forward to focusing more on strategic thinking within the division as quality measurement becomes increasing linked to payments to nursing homes, both at the state and federal level.

Somali elders participate in DHS, Bush-community engagement event

Seventy Somali elders talked about their needs for care and desires for community and social activities to live a healthy and safe life in their own homes, in one of a series of community engagement sessions under way with members of the racially diverse communities DHS serves. The event was hosted by DHS Oct. 11 at the Brian Coyle Community Center in Minneapolis with funding from a Community Innovation Grant from the Bush Foundation. More information is in a story about the community engagement event

New grant funds deeper look at racial inequities in nursing homes

DHS is partnering with the University of Minnesota to study racial inequities in nursing homes under a recently awarded National Institute of Health $1.8 million, five-year grant. The work builds off work Dr. Tetyana Shippee, assistant professor in the University’s School of Public Health, has been doing in recent years under contract with the DHS Nursing Facility Rates and Policy Division. Shippee has used data from the division’s nursing facility quality of life survey for her initial research. In her work under the grant, she will continue to work with Bob Held, director of the Nursing Facility Rates and Policy Division; Val Cooke, division manager; and Antonia Wilcoxon, DHS director of community relations. More information is on the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center's website:

New reports examine services for people with hearing loss

DHS recently received two studies that look at the needs of Minnesotans who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing and how well they are being met by services of the department’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division. The first report (PDF) presents findings of consumer surveys, stakeholder surveys and town hall meetings and makes recommendations regarding next steps to improve the division’s services. The second report (PDF) studied whether the Telephone Equipment Distribution (TED) program is meeting communications needs of Minnesotans who are deaf, deafblind, hard of hearing or who have communication challenges due to speech or physical disabilities. This report includes recommendations for updating the TED program. DHS plans to use findings of the studies to prepare a report to the 2017 Minnesota Legislature on the future of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division and its services.

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